Short-term impacts of a large cultural event on the microbial pollution status of a pre-alpine river

Melanie Leopold, Nikola Krlovic, Michael Schagerl, Jakob Schelker, Alexander K T Kirschner

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Rivers are impacted by microbial faecal pollution from various sources. We report on a short-term faecal pollution event at the pre-alpine Austrian river Traisen caused by the large cultural event FM4 Frequency music festival, with around 200,000 visitors over 4 days. We observed a massive increase of the faecal indicator bacteria (FIB) intestinal enterococci during the event, while Escherichia coli concentrations were only slightly elevated. This increase poses a significant potential health threat to visitors and people recreating downstream of the festival area. A plausible explanation for the uncoupling of the two FIBs may have been a differential persistence caused by a combination of factors including water temperature, solar radiation, and the excessive presence of personal care products (PCPs) in the river water. However, a potential impact of PCPs on FIB assay performance cannot be ruled out. Our observations are relevant for other intensively used bathing sites; detailed investigations on persistence and assay performance of the FIB in response to different ingredients of PCPs are highly recommended. We conclude that for future festivals at this river or other festivals taking place under similar settings, a more effective management is necessary to reduce deterioration in water quality and minimise health risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1898-1907
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Water and Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2023


  • Humans
  • Rivers
  • Fresh Water
  • Escherichia coli
  • Feces
  • Water Quality
  • short-term event
  • faecal pollution
  • river water
  • persistence
  • personal care products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Infectious Diseases


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